Consumer Democracy

Ronald Wright, argued in his 2004 book A Short History of Progress, and the 2004 CBC Massey Lectures, that our modern predicament is as old as civilization, a 10,000-year experiment we have participated in but seldom controlled. Only by understanding the patterns of triumph and disaster that humanity has repeated around the world since the Stone Age can we recognize the experiment’s inherent dangers, and, with luck and wisdom, shape its outcome.


His new book “What Is America? A Short History Of The New World Order” has subheadings such as Greed is Good; The Big Lie; It’s Oil Stupid; 130 Behind Bars; Land of Paradox. 


Greed is Good : describes the impacts of economic far right Chicago School economist Milton Friedman who instead of subordinating business to the public good through democratic institutions 
prescribed a market run world with no need to tax and to redistribute wealth. Some of the results he notes are the fraud, speculation and crisis wrought by the slashing of regulations in the Reagan years i.e Saving and Loans crisis; the widening gap between rich and poor; America’s streets filled with beggars; and Friedman’s article of faith spending only  on law enforcement and defence which leads Wright to conclude:
” If such policy continues  the United States will become like a Third World dictatorship where the military is  the only effective  institution. Or not even that – if the nation’s right of force is 
sold off to ‘contractors’ and mercenaries.


The Big Lie says Wright  promises people if they convert to the faith of market fundamentalism they will become consumers of goods and enjoyers of democracy.  “While its spell lasts, a few will get 
obscenely rich, others will thrive as middle men, and the rest  will either scrape by or starve. His reference to Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine will be of interest.  He notes that despite phenomenal growth China has no 
universal health care, and 700 million Chinese earn less than $2 a day and  concludes: “What kind of progress is this?  Did America  throw off the divine right of kings only to enthrone , worldwide, the divine right of things.” 

It’s the Oil Stupid- 
”In short : A cabal of weapons dealers and oil profiteers who came to power in the world’s mightiest nation by dubious means took advantage of the Sept 11th attacks to start an unrelated war they 
had been wanting for years…. The so -called war on terror will breed only more terror and more war. The neglect of the world’s poor will lead to chaos. The rape of the environment will take our 
civilization to catastrophe. Our only hope, … is to build a world order in which everyone has a say and shares the rewards…..

”But since the mid term elections of 2006, there have been encouraging signs that ….American democracy  is capable of repairing itself. …. However he concludes … hoping for the best 
instead of learning from the past has often led America astray.”



See also Ronald Wright on youtube speaking about his book.


About jboydedu

The Australian Centre for Sustainability Literacy is a division of Julie Boyd and Associates, who have been working for three decades to educate students in becoming positively contributing world citizens. We use a careful integration of solid research and evidence from a broad range of fields across education, community, business and leadership to support the 7th Generation concept which says that all decisions need to be made for the benefit of 7 generations forward.
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